New York – Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah Of America Condemn Rabbi Avi Weiss Over Woman Rabbah

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    Rabbi Avi WeissNew York – Rabbi Avi Weiss has conferred “semikha” upon a woman, has made her an Assistant Rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale where she carries out certain traditional rabbinical functions, and has now given her the title of “Rabbah” (formerly “Maharat”). He has stated that the change in title is designed to “make it clear that Sara Hurwitz is a full member of our rabbinic staff, a rabbi with the additional quality of a distinct woman’s voice.”

    These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms. Any congregation with a woman in a rabbinical position of any sort cannot be considered Orthodox.

    Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld
    Rabbi Yitzchok Feigelstock
    Rabbi Dovid Feinstein
    Rabbi Aharon Feldman
    Rabbi Yosef Harari-Raful
    Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky
    Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler
    Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin
    Rabbi Yaakov Perlow
    Rabbi Aaron Schechter

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    171 COMMENTS

      • For what? Don’t forget that המנדה מי שאינו חייב נידוי is himself חייב נידוי. So before you have your wish, you must specify EXACTLY what he has done to deserve it.

    1. Weiss has always been consistent in his own inconsistencies; except for one area of his life. His ego is never subject to change. I knew his dad….more of the same.

      • What a foolish question? None of the people you mentioned acted in the name of Judaism. To even equate these cases with the circumstance we are discussing is ridiculous.

      • because it does not need to condemn fraud and sexual shenanigans that are clearly Assur and are in the public domain, any more than condemning a mechalel shabbos – it is precisely in areas of ideology that threaten the authenticity of the Mesorah that our Gedolim are charged with the task of upholding and offering guidance. why is this not obvious to everyone??

      • Avi Weiss has made an uncontroverted statement regarding his view of the righteousness of his action that does not comport to Torah views. This must be condemned so as not to mislead the tzibbur that this may be acceptable adaption to the times and so that it is not viewed as modesty for female halachik issues.

        None of the others have clearly admitted to their highly publicized alleged wrongdoings and have definitely not claimed that their alleged actions are acceptable Jewish behavior. There is no danger that the tzibbur will view such alleged wrongdoing as acceptable. We must all do whatever we can to remain highly alert and prevent such activity in our communities.

        • ” There is no danger that the tzibbur will view such alleged wrongdoing as acceptable.” Really?!?! Have you read some of the comments posted on VIN in defense of people like Rabashkin and others?

      • Rav Shmuel Kamenesky has come out forcefully against smoking and drinking on purim on record. He is a senior member of this body.Why do you bash gedolim without regard for the facts? I urge all who feel the need or desire to knock Gedolim that in the spirit of Taanis esther, please keep the negative comments to yourself. It doesn’t help klal yisroeland and its not a z’chus for you.

      • That’s a really sexist & dumb comment, even though I think what Rabbi Weiss has done is shocking. He obviously isn’t even Conservative…Reconstructionist, maybe?

        • Reconstructionists don’t believe in Hashem. They’re atheists. And Conservatives believe in Hashem but don’t believe that He is the Author of the Torah shebichsav, let alone the Torah sheb’al peh. R Weiss believes in all the ani-maamins, and in every word of the Torah shebichsav AND sheb’al peh; that makes him Orthodox.

    2. It’s time to reveal the root of this shanda, In YU many girls learn gemora and poskim like the men etc The MO leadership has to reject feminisem as it has no place in judiasem if they don’t the real orthadoxy will reject them just like we rejected the reform conservativ and the weiss movements..

      • Rabbi Weiss may have crossed the boundary, but don’t blame the entire YU. Maybe Joey should have spent a little more time learning his ABCs and learn how to spell. I don’t know where you went to yeshiva, but your English is a very poor reflection of your education.

      • So what’s wrong with girls learning gemoro and poskim? They learn all secular studies, and davka Torah they shouldn’t learn?! What does that say about the Torah’s importance?

        • Perhaps #13 feels girls/women shouldn’t learn secular studies either. While THAT may have a HISTORICAL basis, I would like someone to cite a posek who has ruled that such a thing has any more of a halachic basis than, say an outhouse (which also was historically used but has no halachic basis)

      • there are worse “shandas” and problems in the charedish Bais Yaakovs than a woman learing Gemorah and Merforshim if that is the big problem in society …please give me thier Avairos!

    3. the moetzes doesn’t waste a minute in condemning something which is not technically assur, has a basis in halacha, and most importantly has nothing to do with any agudah-related kehilla.

      yet the moetzes has been silent for YEARS regarding many of the most devastating issues in our community, not the least of which are the molestors and abusers in our yeshivos, mosdos, shuls, community, etc.

      THESE ARE “GEDOLIM”??

      read the beginning of medrash rabbah on megillas Rus, on the pasuk “vayehi b’ymei shfot hashoftim, va’yhi ra’av baaretz…” (“it was in the days that the judges judged, and there was a famine in the land…”). the medrash says: “WOE TO A GENERATION WHO’S LEADERS DESERVED TO BE JUDGED…”

      rabbosai: this is our generation.

      • MOETZES GEDOLEI HATORAH OF AMERICA

        Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld
        Rabbi Yitzchok Feigelstock
        Rabbi Dovid Feinstein
        Rabbi Aharon Feldman
        Rabbi Yosef Harari-Raful
        Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky
        Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler
        Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin
        Rabbi Yaakov Perlow
        Rabbi Aaron Schechter

        #14 Reader-Your Chutzpah is breathtaking!
        our holy Gedolim sign their name take public positions. You post like the anonymous coward. that you are.

        • I agree wholeheartedly, but Rabbanim are prone to mistakes. I dont belive they made one here, but that doesnt mean they are perfect. Reader 14, its our job to have emunas chachamim no matter if the situation seems to scream the opposite. Even if that is hard to do, comments like those shouldnt be made publicly.

    4. This same language was used by many Rabonim when the the Litvishe started a new Derech Halimud.
      Some of these Rabonim even used this same wording, when relating to some co-signers, who pick and choose the Bochurum they will accept, to only accept the smartest boys into their Yeshiva, and ignore the regular Bochurum.
      The same language was used against the Baal Hatania, by great Tzadikim.

      • To: Yossi

        You touched on a very important point.
        Separating a Bochur from his friends, just because he isn’t a genius, can do terrible harm to that Bochur. The Bochur can become depressed, feeling isolated from all his prior friends.
        It is very said, because the only reason the Yeshivos do it, is to be able to market their Yeshiva as “high standard” or “a Mokom of Mitzionim”.

    5. Instead of worrying about heads of large Bais Yaakov’s being arrested for extortion, and teenage drinking on Purim, and issues affecting the klal, where I have yet to see a full Kol Koreh from the moetzes, they feel a need to condemn Rabbi Weiss for something he is going in his shul , whether right or wrong, how does this affect the klal, and more so the klal the moetzes represents?

      “These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

      Business ethics are not a radical and dangerous departure from our traditions? There are no other problems they can deal with other than a Rabbi, with a very small following, elevating a woman to a position of prominence in his shul and giving her a silly name?

      It is truly sad that the Moetzes thinks that this is the greatest danger facing us. But I guess when the stolen money is going to support the communal organizations, stopping the stealing will lead to a systemic breakdown. Let the frum crime wave continue.

    6. To mrs k umm I’m not sure what planet u live on but rabbonim have come out ageinst smoking many a time and in most yeshivas u can get chuckt for smoking this year for the first time reb shmuale kamentsky even came out ageinst drinking on Purim tradition nor the halacha dident seem to bother him than even though I agree on that one

    7. R’ Hillel introduces prozbul. Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah responds: “These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

      Rabbeinu Gershom issues a ruling prohibiting polygamy. Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah responds: “These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

      R’ Moshe ben Maimon writes his Guide for the Perplexed. Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah responds: “These developments represent a radical and dangerous departure from Jewish tradition and the mesoras haTorah, and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

      The fact that something is new or has not been done before is not evidence that it is bad or wrong. Sometimes, these rabbis are so wedded to how things used to be, that one wonders if they even change their socks.

      • How about when they abolished Tkyas Shoffar on Shaabos, or created the Heter Iska because they realized that nobody can get loans.
        The true tradition of Klal Yisroel is, that when the rabbis see a need for a change and it is not against Halacha, they should be encouraged to make the change.

      • Please don’t equate Avi Weiss with Rabbeinu Gershom, Hillel, and the Rambam. I’m not so sure that the rabbonim of the time if given the chance, would take back what the bans on certain things like the Rambam. They felt that the time was not right. After awhile, history showed that it was right, but that doesn’t make them wrong. For example, the Vilna Gaon was very against chassidus. Perhaps, just a theory here, he knew that it had tremendous potential but he was worried it would be taken too far by certain extremists (see today’s mishichistim). So he fought strongly against it so it would be where it is today – an integral part of judaism, and almost no jew – litvish, sefardic, etc. has not been influenced by it or its leaders for the good.

        • The Vilner Gaon was very very wrong about chassidus. History has shown him to be wrong. As you say, nobody has not been influenced by it for good; because Hashem helped it grow despite the persecution: וכאשר יענו אותו כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ. The Go’on was afraid that it was an antinomian cult like those of Shabsai Tzvi and Frank, and would soon abandon halocho; had he known that this wouldn’t happen he wouldn’t have opposed it. But don’t invent nonsensical theories that his cherem is what kept chassidus on the track; chassidus was always firmly wedded to Torah and halocho, and certainly didn’t need the persecution to keep it there!

      • There is a difference between the examples that you have given and the situation with Avi Weiss: in those situations, the new takanah was instituted to rectify a problem while staying within the framework of halacha. Avi Weiss’ radical ideas dont improve anything, in fact it can have negative effects on frumkeit, and it certainly doesnt appear to be within the framework of Halacha.

        • Sorry, I don’t see the difference. Avi Weiss’ radical ideas might improve Orthodox Judaism a great deal– you don’t know until you’ve given them a try. Maybe women might bring a refreshing change to the stultifying series of bans that, it seems, are all we get from our present-day gedolim. And, please explain how what Weiss did violates halacha.

          • david, the foundation of yiddiskait is kabalos ol.if you can’t accept that,it’s takeh a problem.it’s not for me or you to pasken what’s mutar or assur.btw ,i think it’s foolish to have a “give it a try”attitude when it comes to one person’s attempt to radically alter halacha.

            • Kabolas oil? Whose oil? R Weiss is certainly mekabel oil malchus shomayim. Oil bosor vodom I don’t know why he should be mekabel.

              And what radical — or even subtle — alteration of halacha are you talking about?

          • How can you defend someone who grants semicha with a staff that has non-frum jews on it? All you need to do is look at the Bios on the Chovevie Torah website. He is also currently doing many things counter to the Halachic rulings of Rav Soloviechik ZTL. Over the years Avi Wiess has done many great things for his fellow Jews, but unfortunately he has become misguided may he correct his ways.

            • please use your seichel while replying please name me one other yeshiva where non-frum jews and goyim help ready students for Semicha and Rabbanus.Riets, or chofetz chaim, and lubavictch where most shule Rabbis get their semicha from today, would never hire someone not frum as part of the rabbinic staff to help train leaders of Klal Yisrael. Nor would any school conduct interdenominational dialect regarding religion. This goes completly against Halacha

            • What do you think these non-orthodox faculty members are teaching? Yoreh Deah?! They’re teaching “limudei chol”: counseling, public speaking, etc. These are skills a rabbi needs, and most yeshivos don’t bother teaching them, because they’re not kodesh. If you want to learn counseling you go to an expert, whether they’re orthodox, reform, or goyish. The same applies if you want to learn how to give a sermon – there’s no need to learn it from an orthodox rabbi, you can learn it just as easily from lehavdil a galach. I know chazonim who have goyishe voice coaches, for the same reason. The faculty at YCT who teach limudei kodesh are all orthodox.

            • On their website are alumni bios where they write about people who have taught or been active in reform or conservative shuls and day schools.Personally I feel that helps legitimize them. Also I cannot find justification for the interfaith and interdenominational learning programs. These are clearly a violation of Halachic Psak from the the likes of Reb Moshe Rav Soloveichick ZTL as well as many others. One knows that by legitimizing you further help and enable their (reform conservative)cause. I will say Rabbi Weiss is correct about further need to have discussion with the not frum however we should try to be mekarev them and not legitimize them. Rabbi Weiss has done and in many ways still does good for Klal Yisrael.Re: Chovivie Torah I am sure he has good intentions but he is unfortunately mistaken in the way to carry them out Frilechen Purim only Simchas by Klal Yisrael

            • His ahavas yisroel is the reason why he keeps them on staff. I believe that his approach of not shunning them and calling them degrading names, but showing them the beauty of yiddishkeit and respecting them for their humanity is the correct one.

              The core of yiddishkeit is menschlachkeit, as Hillel told us in Shabbos 32a. Now there are mitzvos that seem to contradict this and that is a kashya which needs a terutz like any other. The killing of the children of the zayin amamin is one such huge difficulty. How can we kill innocent children? Because of this, Rabbi Weiss founded YCT to grapple with these difficulties.

              The point of YCT is not to be politically correct, but to be correct in menschalchkeit. I believe that Rabbi Weiss invited a Black Children’s Choir to sing Carlebach niggunim in his shul. This is overwhelming ahavas habriyos. I guarantee that not a single one of those kids will ever commit an anti-semitic act for their entire lives.

              For some of us, the entire purpose of the briya is chessed, and these stories warm our hearts and make the world a better place. Anivus means that we are no better than any other people. Different roles, perhaps, but we are all His children.

        • What problem was improved by R Gershom’s charomim? R Weiss is also fixing a problem, that is at least as urgent as banning polygamy was: there are an increasing number of women who have all the learning that male rabbonim have, and are entitled al pi din to pasken shaylos just like male rabbonim, but because nobody would give them a piece of paper and a title they don’t get the recognition — and the salary bump — that the men get. If the sholom bayis problems occasioned by polygamy were enough to justify a new takonoh, then kal vachomer this problem is enough.

      • comparing hillel, Rambam and Rabeenu gershom to avi weiss shows how far off-base you are – its like me arguing with Stephen Hawking on cosmology – like in every dscipline, in Torah there IS a pecking order, peer-review and a self-regulating system.
        the comment about changing socks reveals that it your comment was not considered , it was polemical, and arrogant and thus easy to ignore.

        • Does it? Why? They were all men, which, apparently, is what made them eligible to be rabbis. Your insistence that one can’t question or challenge people of (what you imagine to be) great stature is nothing more than a pathetic dodge. And, by the way, if my comment was so easy to ignore, how come you couldn’t manage?

      • Are you crazy? Is Avi Weiss a Hillel, a Rabbeinu Gershom or a Rambam? Whatever they did they had the support of great Rabbonim, whose support does Avi have? The Reform?

      • Your posting smacks of the conservative and reform viewpoint, viz., “we need to make changes to adjust to the times.”
        How can you equate Avi Weis with R’ Hillel, Rabbeinu Gershom, R’ Moshe ben Maimon? There are accepted rules about who is authorized to make changes.

    8. Kinda gives you a sense of what it was like to be in the time of Zechariah Frankel and the maskilim. A Weiss has tested how far he can push the envelope and now both the Agudah and (it seems) the CRC are saying “too far”

      • The difference is that Frankel was an apikores, and Weiss is not. That distinction may be too subtle for you, but it’s a vital one. If Frankel had believed that the Torah shebichsav and she’al peh are from Hashem Himself, and not the work of men, then his chidushim wouldn’t have been a problem. Weiss does believe, and is mechadesh only within the arba amos shel halocho, so what’s your beef with him? If you don’t like his innovations, don’t practise them. He’s not forcing your daughters to take smicha.

    9. Now will the Yeshiva that gave him semicha speak out. We all know that Rav Schachter, Willig, Twersky, Rosensweig, tendler, Kahn etc. agree with the Moetzes on this. So JUST SAY SOMETHING!!! The silence is deafening, and hurts “centrist orthodoxy”.

    10. Why is this so bad. He didnt say she could pasken on gittin.,or be a mesader kiddushin, he didnt say she is kosher liaydus.She also is not the chazan(fot the men)or a baal koreh.Maybe she works really hard and he gave her an honorary title to show his thanks.I think ther are a lot of trouble makers in the community( so called askanom)Who probably ran to the gedolim with a whole bubbeh maaseh . Please read between the lines.

        • what are the halachick requirements to be MESADER kiddushin – i know that eidim either at the writting or delivery – are important
          but the mesader kiddushin – is a lange buerd and lange rekel a halachick requirement ???
          more to the point .. last week in the daf .. the famous quote .. are all gitting given before a beis din of mumches ?? .. eidim are required .. who writes .. who cares .. you need lishmah .. can a female have kavanah lishmah .. now that is a halachick discussion
          the rest of your comments represent mikveh reid at best
          why not have the moetzes issue a clear .. well thought out halachick response ?? Reb Dovid can write one in his SLEEP !!!
          clarity please

    11. #3 You should be ashamed of yourself and your comment borders on the Rambam who writes כל המבזה ת”ח אין לו חלק לעולם הבא If I was you, I’d be very concerned.

    12. You’re all bleating like blind unthinking sheep…I hope the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah took into account all of the good that he does before they issued their statement.
      R’ Weiss definitely has a history of unconventional and out-of-the-box activities. However, I would suggest you take a trip to his shul in Riverdale and see first hand the warmth, d’veykus and pure avodas Hashem and ahavas Yisrael that envelops his kehillah on a weekly basis.
      His congregation – men and women alike – have a sincere desire to serve Hashem through t’fillah and avodah. What R’ Weiss is doing is creating a way -albeit non-conventional – for the modern orthodox woman to feel more connected to davening, Torah and halacha. The idea is not for Ms. Hurwitz to pasken halacha for men and families, but rather to be an accessible conduit for women to speak comfortably with someone who knows halacha and has a framework of yedios in Torah and halacha.
      I’m not a Rabbi or a talmid chacham by any stretch, but my pintele yid tells me that achdus and tolerance for our brothbrothers and sisters will surely bring the geulah sooner than misguided kanaus.

      • Judaism is not predicated just on the warm and fuzzy. There is a Shulchan Aruch that determines what is and is not acceptable. If recognized Rabbonim feel that these actions “break the mold” in a way that either is mechallel Halacha or opens the door for other types of chillul – then the actions are wrong and should be challenged with zeal. I believe that Rabbi Weiss means well but that is not the determing test – Halacha is.

        • But that is precisely his argument. If halacha really is the test, then he is 100% in the right, and his critics are in the wrong. They are the ones saying that the 4 chalokim of shulchon oruch are not the determining test, and that instead the test “tradition” and their own instinct for what is the “spirit of Judaism”. Bimchilas kvodom, they have no special hotline to Hakodosh Boruch Hu; their authority is no better or worse than his, and he is entitled to disagree with them. If they could point to a halacha that he was breaking, they would have done so.

      • While one cannot contest the warmth that is present in Weiss’ synagogue, if the congregation is so sincere in its desire to serve Hashem through tfillah and avodah, why do they barely get a minyan any time other than Friday night and Shabbos morning?

        And, as a matter of fact, the idea is indeed for Mrs. hurwitz to be pasken halacha for men and families and specifically NOT to be a comfortable conduit designated for the comfort of the commmunity women.. Perhaps you are confusing her position with that of a yoetzet halacha. Get your facts straight.

        • What are you talking about? There are hundreds of people at mincha on Shabbos afternoon (and lots of women too, Hashem yishmor), and they have 2 minyans for shachris every day???

      • The gedolei Yisroel who made a Teilung in Hungary in 1869 thought otherwise, and history has proven them right.

        It’s not that he was caught with something and we are going to weigh the good against the bad. As long as he is oimed bemirdoi we shoud shun him until he capitulates. Better that we lose him to Orthodoxy then let him water down Judaism one bit. That’s what the gedolei Yisroel thought about this subject throuout Jewish history, and that’s the only reason we are here today with the original unadulterated Judaism, called Orthodoxy.

      • No, it’s not your pintele yid who tells you all you have written in your post, it’s that other part that suppressed your pintele yid. Suppressed pretty successfully, I must add, at least until now…

      • I am sorry but you are sorely misinformed remember that Avi Weiss also runs chovivie tora where they have reform and conservative rabbis on staff and also have interfaith dialogue. This is only the begining I am sure without being reined in this will lead to a complete full functioning Woman Rav and the break down of the mechitza and probably women wanting to be counted like men for a minyan. This is the exact same road conservative judaisim started off with. Many of the original heads of the conservative movement grew up frum and were extremly well versed in Gemara and Halacha. This condemnation is not misguided Kanaus Rabbi Wiess claims he is part of modern orthodoxy, I guarantee not one Rosh Yeshiva from YU Or anyone involved in the upper echelons of Rabbonim who identify themselves as modern orhtodox approve of Rabbi Wiesses Halachic stretches or of Chovivie Tora. There is a reason why he started Chovevie Tora, that reason is because not one Rabbi worth there two cents would agree that what he has been doing lately is acceptable. He has done much Klal work Halevay his zechusim should help lead him back to the right derech. Frielichen Purim Brochos in Klal Yisrael.

          • balogna– maybe heimish background but I think one is known as an “ex-satmar chassid.” And the MO’s point to him with pride as if he is the one who discovered the light and makes them feel legitimized. No doubt he is more learned and qualified than the rosh yeshiva, but his position is a much lower level. it’s about time he was promoted to a higher position and given a title too!

      • all those women @ HIR that are soo frum that they have all these shailos they need to ask, but are soo tznius that they need a woman to talk to…
        and u’re right they do have very lively services every week (300-400 ppl), but can barely get a minian together during the week…
        it’s nothing but a conservative temple

    13. Devorah Haneviah, Chulda, etc…Historically there have always been frum leaders that were female. Why doesn’t someone investigate who this woman is? I’m interested to know what kind of services she performs, her hashkofos, etc…Why run to condemn anyone before the facts are known?

    14. Now that we got Rabbah, where is Abaye? 🙂
      Refua shleima to Avi Weiss – though I don’t know if it’s possible.
      Hebrew Institute of Riverdale should be renamed Hebrew Circus of Riverdale.
      Nobody prevents Sara Hurwitz from serving Hashem, but why does she need the title? I smell baalas gaiva 🙂

    15. Does the police car running stop lights without an emergency help a red light camera ticket (G-d forbid)?

      Pointing fingers back at the haredi community doesn’t negate the need to censure a rabbi gone rogue.

    16. It is not necessary for the Gedolim to take a stand agaisnt something that EVERYONE knows is not al pi torah cf. molesters, stealing, etc. They do make a statement (in my opinion) when there are numerous members of the klal who don’t realize themselves why this is an issue. Let women be all they can be, No?
      I believe the answer is that halacha has no problem with women being all they can be (and men being all they can be as well). What is a problem is when men try to become women, women try to become men, adults try to become children, and humans try to become animals. Each human and each gender has a purpose. Just because the poisonous ideals of the goyim have leaked into the yiddishe teivah doesn’t mean that it makes sense. Women have a different role than men, which does NOT mean they are less or unequal. The opposite is true, they are on a higher spiritual plane so they need less physical mitzvos and are entrusted with the future of klal yisroel – raising our holy children. When some purported rabbi attempts to confuse yiddishkeit with a political movement (feminism), the Gedolim want to help the klal from being swept up in the confusion.

      • You would maybe have an argument if not for the fact that the kollel movement has already taken women and made them into men – by having them be the breadwinners for the family. You can’t have it both ways.

        • Very good point. And unlike giving women smicha, what the kollel world has done is clearly against הלכות גוברין יהודאין. One wonders whether a kollel couple’s kesuba is valid, since it contains a lie. When a husband promises ואנא אפלח…ואיזון ואפרנס יתיכי ליכי, but has no intention of ever fulfilling that promise, is the shtar not מזויף מתוכו?

          • What are you talking about? Of course he does.

            Those who get married while still in Medical or Law School and rely on their wife’s income until they graduate, at which point they become the primary breadwinners and the wife can work less or, in a decent economy, not at all. So, too, once the men leave kollel they do work at some job, whether it’s as a Rebbi or a lawyer or anywhere in between.

            Obviously, you don’t like the kollel system, but please don’t call the validity of their marriages into question.

            • Those who get married while studying intend to finish studying at some point, and start earning. The wife agrees to support him for those few years, and in return she will benefit from his higher income when he qualifies. But the whole point of the modern kollel system is that it’s supposed to be for life. Anyone who drops out of kollel to take a job is seen as a failure, someone who didn’t withstand the test; the tachlis is not to take a job, even as a teacher or klei kodesh, but to learn lishmoh full time forever. Which is fine if you have a yerusha that will support you and your wife and children; but if you don’t then how is your promise to maintain your wife not a lie?

            • Which “modern kollel system” is “for life”? Most of my friends have learned in kollel and went on to work as either klei kodesh or went to work in the secular world like everyone else.

              And even if there were a group of people who did sit in kollel for life, because there are so many others (probably the majority) who learn and then work, your remarks about the kesubah of a kollel couple being of questionable validity, were still wrong as you are tarring the entire group with your broad brush.

            • I’ve got no problem with those who go into kollel with the intention of staying for one or two years and then leaving. On the contrary, the Torah says נקי יהיה לביתו שנה אחת, so he can learn with menuchas hanefesh, not so he can stay home all day driving his wife crazy! But I have a big problem with a system that holds up as an ideal that a man should sit in kollel his whole life, and regards leaving to get a job as a failure. When a man marries with the *intention* of never providing for his wife, then I have a problem.

            • And you may add that many in Medical or Law School, when they finally finish with the help and sacrifice of their wife, after they had used them, they then dump them for another women, because now he isn’t a mister nobody anymore.

    17. Lets stop screaming “oh, this they speak up about, but not Kolko, Tropper etc..” It’s very simple, you just need to have some Seichel.

      As the Gedolim of our generation, they don’t need to condemn someone that does something that is blatantly wrong i.e. a Mechallel Shabbos (not that I am making any comparison to Child Molestors other than they are both obviously outside the Pale of Orthodoxy. Granted one is Heinous and Despicable, but they are both obviously Wrongs)

      What the Gedolim do have to concern themselves with is our Mesorah and keeping the Doros going. Things that confuse people and may mislead people. Know one needs R’ Aron Schechter to get up and scream that Kolko is a RASHA. We all know that. We do need him to clarify things that some of us may not know.

      That is why they choose to respond to Avi Weiss and not to the the Miyusdika people.

      • Liberal women hate it. I heard one say, she hates being called rebbetzin b/c she’s then defined by her husband’s profession. She happens to be a really nice woman actually, but whoa! is she to the left!

        • How is that a leftist position? It used to be that a doctor’s wife was a “doctorke” and a plumber’s wife was a “blecherke”, etc. In those days a rov’s wife was a “rebbetzin”. Women had no occupations or identity of their own, so they were defined by their husbands’ occupations. Nowadays women are defined by their own occupations: if a woman is a doctorke, we assume she’s the medico, not her husband. So why should a woman with a career of her own be called “rebbetzin” instead of “teacher” or “carpenter” or whatever she happens to be?

    18. The Agudah is not looking to condemn and bash people left and right (as opposed to many of the commenters on this site, who dislike anyone with a beard). Banning child molesters is pointless; we all know what to think of such people. And with all of that, there is not a fear that the “hamon am” will be influenced by them, and think, “Hey, you know what? Maybe these child molesters have a point after all, let’s follow them.” Weiss, however, is a legitimate (interesting word, actually) threat to our Mesorah, and there is a danger that people will follow – hence the condemnations.

      Oh, and by the way #34 – technically once we have Rabbah, it would be R’ Yosef. Abaye goes with Rava – remember, “yiHEI shmei RABBAH”.

      A freilichin Purim!

    19. When there were issues with Russian Jews, when prisoners were taken, when the Church took over Auschwitz – it was Rabbi Avi Weiss who was there and was arrested – where were all of you? He is unmatched in ahavas yisroel.

    20. This is absurd. Yes, no one need to tell us that Chilul Shabbas is wrong. But if there was rampant Chilul Shabbas in our yeshivas with Rabbonim enabling the Michallai Shabbas to continue and attacking all those who try to fix the problem, don’t you think it would be worthy of condemnation by the Gedolim?

    21. Weiss wants his name in the paper. Like anyone else who is in love with the public spotlight he know that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

      He certainly will find moneyed supporters among a growing wing of the MO.

      Gay rabbis next

    22. R. Avi Weiss is a Chassidishe Yid. His father was a Bobover chussid in der heim far di milchomo.

      He has Chassidishe Rabbonim teaching at YCT, such as R. Katz and R. Rapoport, a Lubavitcher Rav from England.

    23. With all due respect to the signatories of this letter, I firmly believe that a generation from now, Rav Weiss and Raba Hurwitz will be regarded as the real “gadolim” of our generation for taking such a bold and principled position to empower yiddeshe women whil many of these self descirbed “gadolei torah” will have been forgetten. Change comes slowly but in this case, they have opened the door to a wave of change which will overwhelm any of those who seek to continue to surbordinate women or their equals or greater in their daas torah and yiras shamayim.

      • I don’t feel subordinate to any man. I am an equal partner in my marriage, specializing in certain aspects. My husband has his responsibilities too. I am educated, a successful businesswoman, very accomplished & I do not have a problem sitting behind a mechitza or not saying Kaddish on my father’s yartzeit.

        I don’t know if you’re male or female, but you don’t help women when you spout this PC nonsense.

        • Good for you. But some women don’t feel that way. I’m sure 1000 years ago there were plenty of women who had no problem with their husband taking a second wife, or with marrying a man who already had a wife, and would never dream of causing trouble in the house. But there were some women who felt otherwise, and R Gershom saw the need to cater to their feelings by banning polygamy.

    24. Yasher Koach to the Gedolim for speaking out for our mesorah. Where are the YU Roshei Yeshiva on this? What about the RCA? Is the RCA compromised because of fringe rabbi’s like Avi Weiss and Yitz Greenberg in their membership or do they support Weiss’ actions?
      Also, contrary to the line of some bloggers, activism and good deeds don’t justify going against halachic rulings-there are Jewish and non-Jewish activists and one doesn’t excuse the other.Such thinking is used in the Conservative and Reform movements to justify their abandonment of Torah.

      • Rav Weiss is not a “fringe rabbi” and the reason that the real gadolim from YU and agudah did not speak out against his decision to give semicha to Raba Hurwits is obvious. The signatories to this outrageous attack on Rav Weiss are totally out of touch with daas torah and halacha even though the list of names includes some well know rabbonim.

    25. #54 makes a very valid point. In addition when the agudah fails to speak out against molesters and other rabbinic criminals their silence threatens the mesorah in an even greater way. The mesorah is based on the implicit trust of our rabbis and leaders. Without trust there is no mesora. The agudah’s failure to protest is actually destroying trust in rabbonim and threatening the very basis of what our mesorah is built on yet the moetzes can proudly boast that by standing up to avi weiss they are protecting the mesora. This is sheer hypocrisy. By the way I do believe that what avi weiss has done threatens the mesorah. However the disintegration of rabbinic trust has far greater ramifications. .

    26. Theמועצת גדולי התורה is a self-appointed group of roshei yeshiva and other mosdos who have several respected rabbonim among their leadership but also includes some second and third tier rabbonim who are not the equal of Rav Weiss in terms of lamdus and leadership. They are entitled to their views as much as we are entitled to ignore them.

    27. The modern orthodox movement is more dangerous than the reform and conservative combined. They sneak in all types of political correct agendas.Besides women rabbas they are slowly allowing homosexuals to be legitimized. This is far worse than the lady rabbas. They already have a few homosexual rabbis and at their jewish orthodox feminist alliance conference last year had a workshop for homosexuals.

    28. Why is everyone up in arms,about this new phenomenon. Worst case scenario; This Riverdale Congregation ,will eventually transform itself into Reform Temple. B”B.

      • No, actually that’s not the worse case. They’ll be hired by very liberal MO shuls to be “assistant rabbi” types. They won’t be hired to do kiddushin or gittin of course, but they’ll “pasken” niddah, kashrus etc and speak in shul (their mechitzas are so low it’s not an issue for them and they anyway have women speakers at times and bas mitzva girls speak in shul.)

        Eventually, people will get used to them and in another generation these rabbas WILL be hired as the main shul rabbis. How will they halachically rationalize doing everything a rav must do? Well, I dont’ know but we’ve seen evidence that they can be quite creative…they’ll find enough minority rishonim opinions and combine them with “contemporary poskim” like Avi Weiss and compare their changes to chassiduss or the mussar movement and that they’ll be able to do whatever they want.

        • So tell me, what EXACTLY must a rov do, that a woman can’t? A rov’s job is to pasken shaylos; a woman can do that. A rov is mesader kidushin; a woman can do that. A rov sells the chometz; a woman can do that. A rov gives the occasional (or nowadays more than occasional) drosho or dvar torah; a woman can do that. So what EXACTLY are you afraid of?

        • WOW..
          over a dozen posts by millhouse and i agree with them all !!
          moshiach must be very near
          today i love you millhouse ( actually i always do .. vahavta lreyacha kamocha)
          all his comments today are erudite focused and i am in awe!!!!

          as for rabbi weiss.. he has put up much over the years for the jewish people
          in some ways he has done more for the nation than all of us combined here in VIN today

          there is an old saying “put up or shut up”….
          rabbi weiss has put up in our generation in ways few of us can fathom nor emulate.

          he is a scholar and religious orthodox man who clearly stays within the bounds of halacha.. eiloo v eiloo divrei elokim chaim

          even if you dont hold by him he deserves respect and kovod habriot
          we can respectfully have differences of opinion for the glory of God just as the talmudic sages respectfully disagreed.

          as for women “rabba” or whatever i say lets see where this goes as long as it stays within the bounds of orthodox halacha..

    29. Raboisai, this is truly something meaningfull from the gedoylei yisroel!! It is high time we focused on important things like this that have REAL meaning to klal yisroel, rather than things like child abuse and financial scandals in the frum community. Finally our gedoylim have shown us how to get our priorities straight!

    30. I’m not a fan of these trends but Rabbi Weiss has always been known to be a sincere and ehrlich person who is sucha true Oheiv Yisroel that he’s gotten arrested for it on various occassions.

      Normally people who run with Leftist fads (or ANY fads) disgust me but based on Rabbi Weiss’s history I’m going to be more than happy to give him the benefot of the doubt and say that he sincerely believes that this is the right thing to do and isn’t looking to be mechaneif anyone. Again, I disagree with him, but I have enough Hakaras Hatoiv to be quiet about it.

    31. Avi Avi, my heart breaks for you. I know you survived 2 heart attacks and heaven was good to you in so many ways. I beg of you to discontinue this grave mistake of creating Rabbas. All your life you fought for Jews and I used to attend your rallies in the seventies as a teen ager. You always meanth well so how did you at this stage mess up. If I were you I would put a full page ad in the Jewish press appoligizing for your mistake and shelve the whole Rabba idea. Instead concentrate on kiruv projects.If you need to do it in a most unusual idea I will give you one. Get mobile cholent trucks to distribute cholent friday afternoons in secular Jewish areas. You can dress up your female members in leather jackets and berets with sunglasses and booths and get plenty of publicity and still enter the
      world to come with dignity. I beg of Avi dont mess up now after a lifetime of activism. Dont be foolish to go down in history like Herzl and Stephen Wise and gang.Wake up your towards the latter part of life so why mess up now. We have to return one day so please as a secret admirer I beg you to reconsider and dont get dragged away in a conterversial high of the moment. Please listen.

    32. 1. How many of these Rabbanim were on the EJF comittee.
      2. Where’s the outcry of the Rabbanim on matters like child abuse, pedefilia, extortion, tax fraud, etc, etc.

      Let’s make one thing very CLEAR. If ANY jew were in a fight for their life AVI WEISS would be there to defend and fight for you. No matter the hat, no matter the sect you associate with. He isn’t perfect and could be called excentric, but his Ahavas Yisroel is second to none.
      Enough dividing Klal Yisroel let’s bring Moshiach.

    33. Amazing how all the guys feel threatened by a Rabbah? Can you even grasp the concept of a Rebbetzin answering shailos? I suppose with half of Lakewood’s women working and men learning the role reversal was inevitable.

    34. I feel that this is a good thing he did – he is not part of the Agudah crowd and the Agudah was just confirming the view of Daas Torah. The Modern Orthodox go against Daas Torah in believing in kefirah like Zionism, Evolution, etc. it is a big chillul Hashem when we have farfrumte modern Orthodox who confuse the hamon am about what Torah really is. It is better that all of the zionists and evolutionists are lberal like Reb Avi, who is a really nice guy and I wish him well. He should have a lot of hatzlachah in everything he does and bring Modern Orthodoxy as far to the left as possible. I am serious – hatzlachah rabbah

      • I’m surprised it took so long for the uneducated ignorami to include evolution in this discussion. Listen, my dear chareidi Jew, evolution is fact and your torah true hashkafah is wrong. Get an education and see for yourself.

    35. a friend of mine learned at YCT and got his smichah there. he told me that if he went to YU or Lakewood for Shabbos, he was always persecuted. The only place he felt comfortable was in KJ where they treated him and his friends with respect. They were davening in one of the medium sized shtiblach there and the gabbai announced “M’hot a por chushiver gast du der shabbos – moderner rabbunim far moderner Yidden. M’vintcht un a sach hatzluche!” By shalosh seudos these YCT rabbonim were given to sit by the oiben un. Despite the propaganda everyone says, the heimishe yidden know what ahavas Yisrael means.

    36. Does anyone know ,when Rabba Sara will deliver her maiden Sermon ? Will it be televised ? Will she wear a Talis ,a veil a sheitl or a burka . I can’t wait. Maybe Millhouse knows ?

    37. Men can be rabbonim and women must encourage their husbands. Men must provide for their wives. Women are supposed to respect Torah and and make their home into a proper atmosphere for a Torah way of life. They are not supposed to get “semicha”. Men are supposed to learn and go to work. They and their wives are supposed to do all their activities in a Torah way of living. Secular knowledge is important for men,too,and Torah is for women that they should know halocho how to properly live and teach their children and support their husbands in a Torah way of life.Hashem made each type of being for a specific purpose and not to mix them up.

    38. This Weiss fellow is a crazy fanatic. What in the world is wrong with a woman seeking guidance from a man. This is even more crazy than segregated buses in Israel. Next Weiss will want seperate hospitals for males and females! Male doctors and male nurses for the men and femasle ones for the woman. If a female Rabbi marries a couple maybe the male will feel uncomfortable- so Weiss will need to change the Torah to say that Men need to marry men and women to marry women.

      What’s next for this fanatic???

      Too much free time to think up all these crazy ideas of Men not being able to be a Rabbi for Women. Maybe soon we will need female plumbers to keep the ladies more comfoprtable etc. etc.

      • Sorry Barry!
        You have it all wrong.

        Rabbi Avi is no fanatic. He is a stirrer amd likes being a little provocrative, but is rather a little too modern and not very traditional/Orthodox. You might need someone to explain all this to you.
        Purim Sameach

      • You are wrong. Reform 100 years ago did not believe in the Torah; it did not believe in milah, shabbos, kashrus, moshiach, or anything else. The gulf between it and orthodoxy was even greater than it is today, if you can imagine such a thing. Avi Weiss, on the other hand, believes in every word of Torah shebichsav and sheb’al peh; what more do you want from him?

        • Not to be oiver on “loi sosur” min hadovor asher yagidu lecho yomin usmoil. Don’t be a wise guy and think that you are smarter then the gedolei Yisroel. If you want to go the route of technical Torah shebichsav and sheb’al peh, then tell me why it is forbidden to marry a shiksa? That only a man can be a rov, is clearer from Torah shebichsav and Torah sheb’al peh then in being prohibited to intermarry.

    39. I don’t even understand why there is a conversation going on here…..hopefully we ( well some of us…appearently!) can all agree on one thing…what Rabbi Avi Weiss did was totally 100% assur! People in this generation can’t just decide that they want to change our mesorah and the ways that our chazal have chosen…very dissapointing!

    40. Bottom line – he has paved the road successfully for his followers to continue on. He is getting the job done of furthering his opinion and since he couldn’t care less about charedi condemnation, he is doing it beautifully. Every other community should learn a lesson from him!

    41. The issue that is most troubling, is that our Gedolim do not site any Halachic source for their disagreement with Rabbi Weiss. Instead there is a visceral response and an accusation that he is departing from the Mesorah. On the other hand the issue of ‘Rabba’ or ‘Maharat” is halachically problematic.
      Here is why:
      1) Religious or civil appointments are only to be given to men. – Rambam H. Melachim.
      2) Women cannot be witnesses. – Talmud Shavuos.
      3) Women cannot render Psak (any Din)- Talmud Shavuos.
      4) Women cannot be counted for a minyan -Talmud Berachos, Sanhedrin.
      5) Women cannot absolve oaths

      So what exactly is the Rabbah’s purpose or scope?
      Well maybe you’ll tell me that today most Dinim are not Psak but merely refernces to Halacha that has already been ruled on and she simply serves as a reference, -maybe. But the distinction has to be clearly made.

      What about Devora? you ask, well the Rishonim deal with it. (Shavuos fourth perek) either she served as Teacher and not as a Posekes, or she was an arbitor, and again not a Posekes, or she was listened to because of her status as a Prophetess, or simply it was a Hora’as sha’ah (temporary disspensation).

    42. What is also troubling is the statement by Rabbi Norman Lamm stating that women Rabbis is a “cultural and not a religious problem”. As we have just illustrated there are significat Halachic ‘challenges’ in both the appointment and function and scope of the ‘Maharat’ or ‘Rabbah’.

      I would challenge Rabbi Weiss or Rabbi Lamm to explain these halachic problems. On the other hand, I respectfully question the Moetzes’ stance – a group of renound Chachamim and Talmidei Chachamim without citing so much as a Gemara, a Ra’mbam a R’an a R’osh or Shulchan Aruch. They may (know?) or think the objections to a Rabbah are obvious, but from time immemorial Rabanim always gave sources for their points of view… Not simply ‘Kablu Da’ati’

      Chag Kosher Vesameach to all!

      • The reason they don’t cite sources is not to fall into the trap laid out by Rabbi Weiss, because that’s exactly what he wants, a debate; and as starters Rabbi Lamm stated that it is a “cultural and not a religious problem”, therefore you can take away from this that this is what they will be hammering away, that it’s not Halacha but “cultural” and if it’s cultural then “times have changed” and culture has changed, therefore this needs to be changed too; and as you have seen from many comments that they will try to bring proof from Devorah Hanevuah and from every woman in history who had some leadership role, then they will bring every episode in history where Chazal or Gedolei Yiosroel changed this or that or were Mesaken this or that.

      • This is the reason not to get into any debate about this. Rabbi Weiss knows full well all the sources against this, so “knowledge” is not missing here, only the want to change to conform to the current culture. Rabbi Weiss is not the first and will not be the last to attempt to change Judaism, and the only response is the response to the Rosha in the Hagaddah (I’m not calling Rabbi Weiss a Rosha), that Hakhei Es Shinov, knock out his teeth so that he should debate without teeth, without teeth in his arguments.

        That was the answer out sages gave to every Rabbi Weiss in every generation, and that is the only response to this. When the Gedolei Yisroel went after the remnants of Shathei Tzvi lots of innocent rabbis were sacrificed too as the Gedolei Yisroel would take no chances.

        I am not talking about Rabbi Weiss per se as I wasn’t in his Neshomah and can’t rule what his motivations are, if benign or malignant; that is for G-d to decide. What I do know is that the Torah is much bigger then one person and the view of the Gedolei Yisroel was always, to chastise even the innocent with the guilty when the Torah is in danger.

      • Even if Rabbi Weiss should have had the most noblest intentions to go only until here and not beyond his red line, who is to guarantee that others with clear malignant intentions will not take it further.

        That others will come and take it from where Rabbi Weiss left off, is a given, so the only response is to nip it in the bud. When the Torah is in Sakonah then it is not the time to talk but to take action to stop it in time. Afterwards when the danger passes we can start debating the details, and theorize until tomorrow.

        I’ll only mention one historical episode for reference.

      • In 1869 when Judaism was put in danger because the Reform were the majority and wanted to force their brand of Judaism on everyone by royal decree and Dina Demalchusah Dina; and ALL they asked for was for DEBATE. The Gedolei Yisroel had no choice but debate, because Kaiser Frantz Joseph asked for it so who can go against the wishes of the king? What happened next is that after a few weeks of a one sided debate, as the Reform had the majority, and when they started questioning the validity of the Shulchen Oruch, the Halacha, that’s when the Gedolei Yisroel had had it, and stormed out of the debating hall with Mesiras Nefesh. Then they had to send careful letters to Kaiser Frantz Joseph explaining themselves why they went against the Kaiser’s wishes and a Ness happened and Kaiser Frantz Joseph recognized their correctness.

        After the Teilung until this very day, there is still a debate if the Teilung was warranted and what should’ve could’ve been done, but no one denies the fact that the Teilung saved Hungarian Jewry. The only debate is if we could’ve saved the reform too. The Gedloei Yisroel weren’t going to take chances then and shouldn’t now.

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